UPDATE: Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex has issued a statement claiming: “This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right.” Read the full statement below.
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex has won her latest media battle against British newspaper the Mail on Sunday.
The latest legal skirmish relates to a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle, three years ago. He went on to share the letter with the newspaper, which published excerpts alongside a number of articles discussing its contents.
Meghan subsequently brought a claim in the U.K.’s high court against the newspaper for breach of copyright and invasion of privacy. Earlier this year her legal team, believing her case to be strong, made a move to obtain summary judgment, which means asking the judge to hand down a verdict without a trial.
A judge allowed the summary judgment and found in her favor.
Last month the Mail on Sunday appealed the ruling. In a three day hearing they argued before a panel of three Court of Appeal judges that the case should be allowed a full trial, which would have been expected to last around two weeks, especially with new evidence having come to light. That evidence included a witness statement from Meghan and Prince Harry’s former private secretary, Jason Knauf, that stated Meghan had written the letter in the knowledge that her father would potentially leak it to the press. The Mail on Sunday’s case was that this knowledge suggested she had no expectation of privacy with regard to the letter’s contents and had written it in the expectation it would be leaked.
The Mail on Sunday’s evidence, which included text messages and emails between Meghan, Harry and Knauf, also demonstrated that the duchess had collaborated with the authors of a book about her and Harry called “Finding Freedom.” She had previously denied doing so.
After emails between her and Knauf were put before the court which showed Meghan had instructed her private secretary have discussions with the authors, Meghan apologized to the court in a statement, saying: “I apologize to the Court for the fact that I had not remembered these exchanges at the time. I had absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the Defendant or the Court.”
Despite that, the Court of Appeal has now found in the duchess’s favor, upholding the first judge’s decision that Meghan had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” with regard to the letter and that the contents were “personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest.”
Had the newspaper printed less than half of the letter, the judges added, this may not have been the case.
The Mail on Sunday will be expected to print a statement about the duchess’s legal victory on the front page and pay her legal costs.
Following her victory, Megan issued a statement saying:
“This is a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right. While this win is precedent setting, what matters most is that we are now collectively brave enough to reshape a tabloid industry that conditions people to be cruel, and profits from the lies and pain that they create.
From day one, I have treated this lawsuit as an important measure of right versus wrong. The defendant has treated it as a game with no rules. The longer they dragged it out, the more they could twist facts and manipulate the public (even during the appeal itself), making a straightforward case extraordinarily convoluted in order to generate more headlines and sell more newspapers-a model that rewards chaos above truth. In the nearly three years since this began, I have been patient in the face of deception, intimidation, and calculated attacks.
Today, the courts ruled in my favor – again cementing that The Mail on Sunday, owned by Lord Jonathan Rothermere, has broken the law. The courts have held the defendant to account, and my hope is that we all begin to do the same. Because as far removed as it may seem from your personal life, it’s not. Tomorrow it could be you. These harmful practices don’t happen once in a blue moon – they are a daily fail that divide us, and we all deserve